Last week, Xanthe Jimmy and I went hunting in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, USA, the longest cave system in the world and a famous ecological reserve with a wide variety of rare and precious flora and fauna.
In order to be able to hunt at night, we had to have night vision infrared goggles. we found a professional hunting supply store online, ordered two pairs of high quality night visinight vision infrared goggleson infrared goggles, and received the shipment before we left. Read the instructions carefully and learned how to adjust and maintain these goggles and how to avoid some common problems such as fogging and eye strain.
Mammoth Cave National Park has many species of wildlife, such as deer, foxes, raccoons, groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, and more. We wanted to hunt some larger and more challenging animals, so we chose deer as our main target. As for the hunting ground, we chose a place far away from the den, with fewer trees and a more open view, so that we could easily observe and track the deer’s activities.
Once the preparations were done, we were excited to set off. We rode our bikes along the road for a few hours, enjoying the scenery and architecture along the way, as well as some local snacks and drinks. After arriving at Mammoth Cave National Park, we set up camp at a designated campsite and waited for darkness to fall. When night fell, we put on warm clothes, night vision infrared goggles, guns and ammunition and started our night hunting trip.
While preparation for a night hunt is important, there is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly. We had a lot of challenges and thrills during the night hunt. At first, we had a relatively good time finding some deer tracks and following their direction. We wore night vision infrared goggles that allowed us to see the deer’s figures and eyes clearly. We crept closer to them and tried to find a suitable shooting position. However, just as we were about to shoot, we suddenly heard a sharp cry, like something was attacking the deer. Startled, we hurriedly hid behind a large tree to observe what was happening.
With night vision infrared goggles, we saw an amazing scene. A huge black bear rushed out of the woods and pounced on a deer. The deer fled in fear, but not as fast as the bear. With its sharp claws and teeth, the bear tore into the deer’s neck and shoulders and dragged it to the ground. The deer let out a miserable wail and soon lost its life.
We looked dumbfounded and couldn’t believe our eyes. This was the first time we had seen a black bear and the first time we had seen such a cruel and bloody scene. We felt both shocked and scared, wondering if the bears would notice us and attack us. We hugged each other tightly and silently prayed that the bears would leave soon.
Fortunately, the black bear didn’t seem to notice us; it was just enjoying its dinner. It took a few bites of the venison and then dragged the deer to a more secluded area. We took the opportunity to quietly leave the area and look for a safer place to continue hunting. This encounter taught us the dangers of night hunting and made us more careful and cautious.
Hunting at night not only involves facing dangerous animals like black bears, but also dealing with darkness and cold, as well as the possibility of getting lost and misfiring. These are the difficulties and risks of hunting at night, and require sufficient courage and wisdom, as well as mutual trust and cooperation.
Darkness is the biggest enemy of night hunting, it will affect our vision and judgment, making us easy to miss opportunities or get into danger. Although there are night vision infrared goggles, but it is not a panacea. The device only allows us to see a certain range of infrared light, and can not show the color and detail. Sometimes, we will see some blurred shadows or bright spots, and can not tell what it is, whether it is a friend or foe.
The night temperature in Mammoth Cave National Park is very cold, especially in winter. Although we wore warm clothes, we still felt chilly. We didn’t dare to stay in one place for too long for fear of getting frozen, so we moved our bodies from time to time and did some simple exercises such as jumping, patting and shaking our arms and legs. Also drink some hot drinks such as coffee. All these can help us keep our body temperature and spirit.
Mammoth Cave National Park is a large area with many trails and switchbacks. You can still see some signs and signage during the day, but at night it’s hard to tell. Although we had a map and compass, they were not very accurate and convenient. Once, we chased a deer for a long time, only to find ourselves in a valley with no exit. Had to return the same way, wasting a lot of time and energy.
When hunting at night, the sight is not good and the sound is not clear. Sometimes we would mistakenly think we saw prey or enemies, when in fact it was our own partner or someone else. Once, we saw some movement and thought it was a deer in the grass. We crept closer and prepared to shoot. As it turned out, we found that it was another group of night hunters who were also looking for prey. We hurriedly retrieved our guns and greeted them with an apology. They also responded kindly to us and said it was okay. We exchanged some information and experiences with each other, and then each continued hunting. This encounter made us feel surprised and lucky, and made us pay more attention and communicate with each other.
After hours of running around and searching, we finally found a herd of deer grazing and resting in the grass. We slowly approached and surrounded them. Aiming at one of the largest stags, he had a nice pair of antlers and looked strong and healthy. We looked at each other in silence and then fired at the same time. Our bullets hit the stag exactly in the heart and it immediately fell to the ground without making any sound. The other deer were startled and fled. We happily ran over and checked the stag’s condition. It was dead and had not suffered much pain, and it was the first time we had ever hit a deer.
We tied the stag to the locomotive with a rope and went back to the camp. We separated the skin and guts of the stag with a knife, cut the skin into small pieces, soaked it in salt water, and wrapped it in tinfoil. We buried the entrails in the earth so as not to attract other animals. We put the skin in a large iron pot with some water, oil, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro and other seasonings, boiled it over the fire, and then roasted it with firewood. This is a local cooking method called Kentucky burgoo, a dish similar to a stew. We learned this method online and wanted to try it.
The roasting process took several hours, during which we turned and checked the meat in the pan from time to time. A burst of aroma made our mouths water. With the music playing on the locomotive, we couldn’t help but also sing along with a few lines during which we talked about our experiences and feelings of the day, feeling very relaxed and happy.
Finally, at around 2 am, the burgoo was ready, the broth was rich and delicious, the meat was tender and juicy. We spooned out some of the broth, added some slices of bread and cheese to the bowl, sat down next to the fire with the bowl and began to enjoy our evening meal, the slices of bread and cheese adding to the taste and aroma. We ate very well and were very satisfied and grateful to the stag for giving us such food. We ate, drank and chatted until we finished the burgoo, then we cleaned up the dishes and pots, wrapped the rest of the meat in tinfoil and put it in a freezer for tomorrow. After putting out the fire, the garbage was collected and put in a garbage bag for tomorrow. Once we were done with that, we went back to the tent and got ready for bed. Lying in my sleeping bag, I felt very comfortable and at ease.
This night hunt in Mammoth Cave National Park was a very impressive and rewarding experience for me. Not only did I experience a new and exciting activity, but I also learned some new and useful knowledge, and learned more about and respected the nature and culture of the area, and deepened my friendship with my biker buddy.